By Teresa Crasto
On Wednesday, April 11, the English department hosted a reading by Julianna Spallholz, a Union graduate, and English Professor Jordan Smith.
Both recently published books: Spallholz’s first book of very short fiction, The State of Kansas, and Smith’s The Light in the Film, a collection of poems.
Spallholz read several pieces of flash fiction (extremely short stories) and one of her longer pieces from the book. Her pieces, while short, gave the listener a vivid glance into the many different relationships she was portraying.
The narrator in the pieces almost always directly addresses another character, expressing their hurt in poignant and humorous ways.
My favorite piece was her final and longest story, “Thanksgiving,” written in the second person.
The images in the story are extremely vivid, from the descriptions of the ravenous, gluttonous family to the “choo choo train of pies” for dessert.
The narrator’s withdrawn and anxious nature contrasts strongly with the “you” of the story, the leader of the family.
The story has its unexpected turning point, which is both humorous and terribly tragic.
Smith often gives ordinary, everyday events a greater meaning in his poems, and his drives around upstate New York are often the subject.
In his poem entitled “Egypt,” which reflects on his town’s international name, he muses that it’s “what happens when the auto- Didacts settle the place, sacred texts in hand, and barely/A thought to what’s under foot.”
The series of poems in his book primarily focus on Liam Rector, a fellow poet and friend who recently committed suicide.
The poems are not overly sentimental, but rather reflect Smith’s friendship with Rector and his grief in a meaningful and poetic way.
“For his Biographer” and “The Veil” are a part of this series and left listeners with a lot to reflect on, as they were the last poems to be read that evening.
It was amazing to hear two writers read their work with such spirit and passion.
They drew the listeners in and kept the attention of the audience for the entire reading.
By the end, I couldn’t wait to read more of their works.